Sustainability Issues Play Large Role in Retail Reputation

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A retailer’s reputation can be lifted or tarnished in many ways, from customer service performance to employee workplace conditions. In today’s market, though, environmental factors are moving up in importance, according to a new survey that shows these concerns playing a larger role than ever in 2008.

The Covalence EthicalQuote ranking provides a look at the positive and negative reputation growth of 27 multinational corporations. The ethical reputations of companies are tracked by sourcing information from companies, media and society, as well as by quantifying and coding positive and negative news.

EthicalQuote rankings were tallied using a positive (+1) & negative (-1) scoring system.

EthicalQuote rankings were tallied using a positive (+1) & negative (-1) scoring system.

“Environmental Impact” and “Waste Management” were listed as the top criteria for positive reputation growth among the companies. Under the sub-category of “Climate Change,” “Packaging, Waste Management and Recycling” were the leading issues in contributing to retailer reputation, with issues like “Energy Efficiency,” “Plastic Bags,” and “Carbon Emissions” also ranking as important criteria.

The ranking finds larger companies, which had been criticized in the past for their environmental policies, making the greatest improvements with regards to positive environmental reputation. Wal-Mart was ranked last in Covalence’s EthicalQuote just one year ago, only to rise to the third position in 2008. This news comes on the heels of Wal-Mart reporting increased earnings as well as an increase in sustainable packaging initiatives.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) models are growing trends among companies. CSRwire, a leading online source for corporate social responsibility and sustainability news, defines CSR as “the integration of business operations and values, whereby the interests of all stakeholders including investors, customers, employees, the community and the environment are reflected in the company’s policies and actions.”

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